What They’re Saying About the Eagles
This week’s roundup of the best Eagles links around the web.
The Eagles’ defensive front-seven is ranked 21st in the NFL, according to Ben Stockwell of Pro Football Focus.
Key stat: Fletcher Cox accounted for 24.7 percent of the total pressures recorded by the Eagles’ front-seven in 2015.
Shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front in their base defense will put the Eagles’ two most productive players, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan, into the heart of the defense. The defensive line is strong with a limited rotation, but beyond fifth lineman Vinny Curry, a versatile pass-rush weapon, the depth is shaky. Those issues creep into the starting lineup at linebacker, where the Eagles will have to hope Jordan Hicks can pick up where he left off in his rookie campaign to lead the group. Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham, meanwhile are coming off of poor seasons and will hope to return to former glories if the Eagles are to outperform this ranking in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Eagles’ quarterback situation is ranked 24th in the league, according to Sam Monsoon of Pro Football Focus.
Key stat: Bradford led the NFL in accuracy percentage under pressure last season, with a mark of 74.6 percent.
Carson Wentz is the QB of the future. The only question is how far away that future is, and whether Chase Daniel will keep him as the No. 3 guy for a stretch in the meantime. Teams often intend to bring their rookie QB along slowly, but it so rarely works out that way if the starter struggles or, maybe more likely in Bradford’s case, gets hurt. Both Bradford and Daniel are receiving significant money, so the Eagles are financially incentivized to get use out of them before they turn to Wentz, and Bradford actually played pretty well last season. In an ideal world, this is a great QB situation, but the chance Bradford plays well enough to keep the QB controversy at bay is small in a town like Philadelphia, where the fans will voice their displeasure quickly. This has the potential to become pretty chaotic pretty quickly.
The Eagles have the second-worst running back situation in the league, opines Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
Key stat: Ryan Mathews averaged 0.7 more yards after contact per attempt than DeMarco Murray last year.
This is another situation where we can assume full health, but the Eagles would be silly to continually pound the rock with Mathews, given his injury history. When he has gotten the call over the past few seasons, the results have been solid, if unspectacular. He’s accumulated a positive rushing grade on 180 attempts over the past two seasons, although he has averaged 2.7+ yards per contact after attempt in each. Behind him, Darren Sproles will be 33 years old; he finally started to show some signs of age last season, turning in the lowest receiving grade of his career.
Overall, the Eagles rank 24th in ESPN’s Future Power Rankings according to Field Yates, Louis Riddick, and Mike Sando of ESPN.
High point: In assessing a roster’s future outlook, it’s important to be mindful of the financial side of football. For Philly, a strong core of talent has been locked up to extensions already, which bodes well for the years ahead. Players like Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson and Vinny Curry will be in Philly for the long haul. How the QB situation unfolds during the season is a big question mark, but the roster around the signal-caller is steady. — Field Yates
Low point: Chip Kelly is no longer around to be everyone’s favorite whipping boy. Howie Roseman has always desperately wanted to be known and respected as a “football guy,” and now he will get his chance to be responsible for everything that goes right or wrong. That includes the draft, where he gave away a boatload of draft capital to move up and select QB Carson Wentz with the No. 2 pick. He also took a chance on some players with character issues in the later rounds. I’m an admitted nonbeliever. We will see. — Louis Riddick
What could change: I had the Eagles’ future roster ranked among the NFL’s top 10 based on the extensions they have signed. Philly’s roster ranked just 17th once we tallied all the votes, however. The quarterback situation appears muddled for the short term, but the longer-term future is clear. Wentz projects as the obvious starter for 2018. That seems like a good thing. — Mike Sando
They’re even lower according to Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports, who has the team at No. 27.
The Eagles had a good deal of success under [Andy] Reid, which is probably why they went back to that well and hired Reid’s offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, to be their new coach. He’s a first-time head coach, the Eagles have had a lot of turnover as they find players to fit their new schemes and nobody in NFL history has had a quarterback depth chart quite like the 2016 Eagles. There are a lot of factors that make the Eagles tough to predict.
Bradford will start the season at quarterback it appears, but who knows after that. The offense will look entirely different. So will the defense, which shifts from a 3-4 to a 4-3 under new coordinator Jim Schwartz. To find the right fits for those schemes — and to seemingly scorch any trace of Kelly around the building — many players were moved out and others brought in to replace them in a flurry of activity. This first season will be quite a test for Pederson.
Maybe this is the first season of a nice, calm, long and successful era with Pederson. After all the crazy upheaval the past few years, that would be nice.
Giants reporter Dan Graziano of ESPN.com thinks Bennie Logan is the rising star of the NFC East.
Dan Graziano, New York Giants reporter: I think I said Fletcher Cox last year and he just got paid, so just in case I’m a good luck charm, I want to be careful with this. But I’m going to go with the guy who lines up next to Cox on the Eagles’ defensive line. I think Bennie Logan was a tremendous run defender last year, and the switch to Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 could allow him to show more ability to generate pressure up the middle. If teams are committing extra attention to Cox, Logan could emerge as a defensive star in the division sooner rather than later.
Emily Kaplan of the MMQB thinks that the Eagles should take a look at a CFL wide receiver.
9. I think the Eagles should take a look at Winnipeg Blue Bombers wide receiver Ryan Smith. Carson Wentz’s former teammate at North Dakota State made this ridiculous no-look catch in a 28-24 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (you know you miss football when you find your self watching CFL replays over the weekend). Then again, maybe video game moves like that only work in Canada.
If the Eagles’ offense produces for the next few seasons, John Clayton of ESPN predicts offensive coordinator Frank Reich might make a similar move that Doug Pederson just made.
20. If the Philadelphia Eagles put up a good offense over the next three seasons, Frank Reich, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, will get a head-coaching job.
Running back Ryan Mathews is the 41st-best fantasy player, according to Alex Gelhar of NFL.com.
Ryan Mathews finished as the RB33 in 2015 on just 23 percent of the total backfield touches, so even a modest workload increase should push him firmly into the RB2 tier. Mathews’ 5.1 yards per carry behind the Philadelphia offensive line in 2015 were the second most in the NFL among backs with 100-plus carries (Thomas Rawls, 5.6). Doug Pederson is the new head coach in Philly, and as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City he funneled nearly 65 of the backfield touches through Jamaal Charles. While Mathews isn’t that caliber of player, if he receives close to that market share of the backfield he could be one of the steals of fantasy drafts, especially in the fifth-round range.